How To Win Pokies – Full Guide With Strategy, Tips and Tricks




Looking to play pokies and win big at an online casino? Read this full guide on how to win pokies. Written by our team of pokie experts at, it covers the different types of pokie machines, odds, payouts, volatility and everything you need to know on how to win pokies.

Whether you are playing pokies online or at a brick-and-mortar casino, it is impossible to win every spin on a pokie machine. If that was the case, everyone would have won and the casinos would have gone out of business rather quickly. This is why every pokie has a House Edge which is a built-in statistical advantage that lets the casino make money in the long run.

Although every spin doesn’t guarantee a win, there are certain strategies that savvy pokie players use to help increase chances of winning over time and get bigger wins. Read all about it in our guide that teaches you everything on how to win pokies.

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Understanding Different Types of Pokies Machines & How They Work

The first pokie machine in its ‘modern’ version was invented in 1894 by Bavarian-born American inventor Charles August Fey. It was a coin-operated gambling machine that Fey, a San Francisco mechanic, built in his basement. Fast forward to 1976 when the first video pokie machine was introduced, featuring an electronic color display and logic boards. The internet revolution of the 1990s saw the first online casino with online pokies launched in 1994. Since then pokies have gone mobile, providing players with access to thousands of pokies at their fingertips from any smartphone or tablet device.

But despite leaps in technology that revolutionized the way we play pokies, many basic principles of pokie machines remain similar.

How Pokies Work

The first step to learning how to win pokies is understanding the principles of the game. Whether digital or mechanic, a pokie machine will contain reels with symbols that represent different values. One or more paylines will outline the pattern of symbols that needs to align on the reels in order to generate a win.

The player will spin the pokie’s reels by pulling a lever or pressing a button (for mechanical, and computerized pokies respectively) with the aim of landing a winning combination of symbols that corresponds with the pokie’s paylines. The payout will depend on symbol values and the amount of money wagered on the payline.

It is important to know that all pokies have a Random Number Generator (RNG) which makes sure that the outcome of every spin is completely random.

Types of Pokies

Beyond basic similarities, pokies differ significantly in their number of reels and paylines, features, payouts, bonus rounds and more. To make the most out of your pokie experience, you need to find a pokie that suits your gameplay, personality and strategy.

Below are the main types of pokie machines available to Kiwi players:

    🎰 Classic Pokies: These are perhaps the easiest pokies to find and the simplest to play. They use traditional symbols such as lemons, cherries, bells, lucky 7s and card suit symbols. The most basic ones include 3 reels and 1 payline across. But there are many newer pokie machines that offer a classic theme combined with more reels, multiple paylines and innovative features.

    🎰 Multi-Reel Pokies: Advancements in technology allow to make pokies that are more visually attractive and exciting. So modern-day online pokies moved away from the classic 3-reel design, adding more reels for a more interesting gameplay and increased chances to win cash prizes. The most common is a 5-reel pokie, and there are games with even more reels available.

    🎰 Video Pokies: Video pokies are used as a generic term for online pokies. However, this term is also used for pokies that boast more sound and visual effects such as intricate design, animation and movies.

    🎰 Multi Payline Pokies: As their name suggests, this category of pokies offers multiple paylines across the reels. Innovation in recent years brought about pokie mechanics that enable many paylines. These include 3, 4, 5 and even 25 playlines, pay-both-way pokies which pay for symbols aligned from either side, and even 1024-ways-to-win pokies with a colossal amount of possible winning combinations.

    🎰 Mega Spin Pokies: These pokies allow to play 4, 5, 6 or even more games at once. Where there are several grids or game sessions happening with every single spin.

    🎰 Multiplier Pokies: This pokie machine has bonus features that are triggered randomly and give players the chance to multiply their winnings. Players can double, triple or even increase their wins by 100 times if lucky.

    🎰 Mobile Pokies: Most of the newer online pokies are compatible with mobile devices such as iOS and Android. However mobile pokies are a special category of pokies that have been created specifically to be played on smartphones and tablets. These pokies provide a seamless mobile experience with enhanced visuals and features that are designed to be played on smaller touchscreens.

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Nowadays it is common to find pokies that combine many of the features above. For example a multi-payline pokie that has 5 reels and offers mega spins and multipliers, etc.

Playing Progressive Jackpot Pokies

Progressive pokies offer a community prize pool. The casino operator or game developer will usually put up a prize seed which is a set amount of money that goes into the prize pool. Then, a portion of every qualified wager made on the progressive pokie by any player will be allocated to the jackpot prize pool. The prize will keep growing until a winning combination is triggered by a lucky player who will win the jackpot. Once won, the prize pool will reset and the jackpot will start building up again.

Progressive Jackpot Tiers

While some progressive pokies make any size wager eligible for winning the jackpot, many offer several betting tiers. So only players that placed wagers over a certain amount will quality to win jackpots. To avoid disappointment, always check the required bets to qualify for jackpot winnings and select the bet level to match the prize you wish to play for.

Jackpot Live-Changing Prizes

Although the odds of winning a jackpot are slimmer, rewards are much larger. For example in 2015 a jackpot of NZ$13.2 million was won on Mega Moolah – a 5-reel, 25-payline progressive pokie developed by Microgaming. It has set a Guinness World Record for the largest online jackpot ever won, and has since been surpassed with even bigger wins.

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What is the House Edge?

Casinos need to make money in order to survive. So it comes as no surprise that every pokie machine has a built-in statistical advantage that lets the casino rake a profit in the long run. This built-in advantage is called the House Edge, which is the percentage of total wagers that the casino will keep as profit over time. So if you want to learn ho­­­w to win pokies, it is important to understand the house edge.

For example if the house edge of a certain pokie machine is 5%, the casino will keep 5c for every NZ$1 wager and return the remaining 95c to players in winnings. This doesn’t mean that a specific player will get 95c back from every NZ$1 wager he/she places. This is an average return that is distributed as winnings to players over time.

Pokies Paylines, Volatility, Probability and RTP

Part of what makes pokies so popular is that they are fairly simple to play. Once you understand the values and functions of different symbols, it’s just a matter of spinning the reels, right? Well, not exactly. Pokie games are a lot more complex than they appear to be. There are many mechanisms, math models and statistical ratios that operate every pokie machine underneath the surface. That’s what makes pokies so exciting and entertaining.

When it comes to choosing the right game and understanding how to win pokies, there are a few terms that you should know:

  • Paylines: This is a pattern that is built into a pokie machine to highlight the possible combinations of matching symbols that a player must generate to win. Paylines traditionally go from left to right. But there are pokie machines that offer paylines with different patterns and directions.
  • Volatility: Also known as Variance, volatility measures the level of risk built into the pokie machine. Low volatility pokies are considered to have low risk, as they will pay out winnings more frequently. Whereas high volatility pokies are considered to have a higher risk as they pay out less often. In both cases the reward corresponds with the risk, where the winnings of low volatility pokies are frequent but smaller vs high volatility pokies that pay out less often, but their prizes are much bigger. Click here to read our full overview on pokie volatility.
  • Probability: Also known as Hit Rate, the probability of a pokie machine is the statistical chance of each spin yielding a win. For example a pokie machine that has a probability of generating a win every 5 spins will have a 20% hit rate.
  • RTP: The RTP (Return to Player) is the percentage of total wagers that will paid out as winnings over time. For example if an online pokie that has an RTP of 96.5%, it will pay out in winnings NZ$96.5 for every NZ$100 wagered. As the RTP is a statistical payout in the long run to all players, it does not mean that every player will receive the same return.

The average 96% RTP of online pokies is much higher than that of pokie machines in a land-based casino. Examples of online pokies with higher RTPs are:

Visit our recommended pokies pages to find more pokies with a high RTP.

Free Pokies Games and Free Spins

A good way to practice how to win pokies is to play them for free. This will let you test many games and find pokie machines that suit your playing style. It will also give you an opportunity to practice your pokie machine strategy. So you can hit the ground running once you start wagering real money.

Many New Zealand casinos use free spins to entice new players and reward their existing customers. Free spins will allow you to spin the reels of specific pokie machines without wagering your own money. However the outcome of a free spin and a real-money spin is just as random. This means that you can also win while playing free spins. And subject to the casino’s wagering requirements, what you win from free spins is yours to keep.

Another way to play pokies for free is on demo mode. Although you will not need to be logged into an account, winnings from demo play will not be available to claim.

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Local vs Network Jackpots

Most casinos feature progressive jackpot pokies. On network progressives, contributions from wagers from all the participating casinos will count towards one common prize pool. This leads to prizes that can grow very quickly to life-changing jackpots worth many millions of pounds.

There are also progressive pokies with local jackpots that are shared amongst players of a specific casino. Although local jackpots tend to be smaller, they usually provide better odds for winning, providing good incentive for real-money pokie fans.

Related Reads:

  • Guide to Pokie Machine Symbols
  • The Best Pokies for Mobile Devices - Top Mobile Pokies

How to Manage Your Budget When Playing Pokie Games

As losing money is an inevitable part of playing pokies, you are bound to have losing spells on the reels. In other times you will have winning streaks that just keep your balance growing. The key to winning on pokies is knowing how to enjoy these winning spells, but never forgetting they will come to an end.

The first rule on how to win pokies is to never bet on money that you cannot afford to lose. You must set up a budget, time limits, and keep a very close eye on your bankroll.

Here are a few more tips to help you manage your pokie budget:

  • Set an equation of time/bets/budget per session: Savvy pokie players set for themselves these three limits before starting to play. For example a budget of NZ$£200 should provide stake for 250 bets which should last 3 hours. When one of these is reached the gaming session ends. Setting this equation also helps to determine which games to play, bet sizes etc.
  • Find the right pokies: Research and find pokies that fit your budget, strategy and goals. Refer to and use the extensive information provided on themes, features, software providers, RTP, volatility, bet limits, etc.
  • Play for free before you wager real money: Using free spins or playing in demo mode are great ways to test pokies without spending any money. It will allow you to spin the reels and better understand how to win pokies that you wish to play for real money.
  • Decide on the type of pokie you want to play and stick with it: Many novice casino players tend to jump around from one pokie to another. This is especially tempting in online casinos where all the games at accessible at a click of a button. One of the key elements in how to win pokies is to focus on your gameplay, bonus rounds, bet sizes and paylines. Decide on a few pokies before you start playing and avoid the temptation of jumping from one game to another and getting distracted.
  • Set aside a portion of your wins: Determine how much of your winnings you would like to set aside if you are having a lucky streak. Many pokie players will take out their initial stake after a big win and keep betting on their profits.
  • Know the difference between bonus and cash: If part of your balance is made of bonus money, make sure you understand the wagering requirements and bonus terms. Do not treat bonus money as cash, as it may not be available for withdrawal until requirements are fulfilled. As freeing up bonus money will require more bets, bonuses should never be considered as part of your budget.
  • Never chase losses: If you want to know how to win pokies, you must also know how to lose. Every pokie player will have losing streaks as it is big part of gambling. When you lose, don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Stop playing as soon as your budget or time limit is up. So you can come back next time for a fresh session and hopefully win again.

How to Win at Pokies FAQs

👉 Can a pokies strategy improve your chances to win at pokies?

As the outcome of every spin is random, a pokies strategy cannot improve your chances to land a winning spin. However researching and choosing the right pokie to fit your style of play and goals, managing stakes, and taking advantage of bonus features and multipliers can increase your chances to turn a profit when playing pokies.

👉 How do you pick a winning pokie machine?

As every pokie is built to churn out winning and losing spins, picking up a winning machine is hard. But when choosing a pokie machine you can check its RTP (Return to Player), volatility, maximum potential win and other factors that can give you a good idea of what to expect when spinning the reels.

👉 Is it better to bet max on pokie machines?

This will depend on your pokie strategy. Some players place maximum bets as part of their strategy while others place smaller bets to make their stakes last longer. Placing the highest possible bet can earn you handsome cash in case of a winning spin, but it can just as well blow a hole in your budget in case of a loss.

👉 How long should you stay on one pokie machine?

If you enjoy playing on a specific pokie machine, you can keep playing it until your budget or time limit expires. Keep in mind that every spin is random on every pokie, so rotating between pokie machines will not necessarily increase your chances to win.

👉 Are pokie machines rigged?

No they are not. Every pokie machine we feature on our site is fully tested and certified by the MGA as well as by independent testing houses to assure that its RNG (Random Number Generator) engine is in order and the outcome of every spin is random.

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